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O’Neill’s illegal logging: 494 days and still counting…

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

494

It is now 494 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.

It was on June 24, 2013 that he was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 494 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the SABL leases and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Tell KLK to leave Collingwood Bay now!

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Collingwood Bay

Collingwood Bay

By Lester Seri* 

Lester Seri is from Collingwood Bay and is one of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK’s attempted landgrab of the community’s forests.

My name is Lester Seri, and I am a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. I come from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe, and I have been mandated by the Wo Ari Kawo Elders to speak on behalf of them on Tribal land matters.

I am writing to you today because the people of Collingwood Bay urgently need you to support our struggle. 

Local people encircling a huge rainforest treeMy people – the Maisin people – along with our neighboring communities in Collingwood Bay have been fighting to protect our customary lands from illegal land grabs for logging and palm oil development for nearly three decades. In 2002 we won a four year court battle against the government for illegally leasing our land for logging and palm oil projects without the consent of the customary landowners. Yet, in 2012 this SAME land area was leased again to suspect middlemen landowner companies and ultimately sold to Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). When I and several other landowners heard that our lands had been leased without our consent again, we took our case to court once more.

In May of this year, the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared the two leases claimed by KLK illegal again and ordered them to be cancelled. While this court victory was important, KLK has not yet left Collingwood Bay and our struggle continues.

The people and the forests of Collingwood Bay need your support now more than ever. Please stand with us now and tell KLK to leave Collingwood Bay immediately!

KLK was forced to give up two leases on customary lands through the court case, but the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay called Lot 5. In recent communications, KLK has stated that it has no intentions to leave Lot 5, despite the fact that it is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that our people use annually for game hunting.

As a member of the RSPO and through its own voluntary commitments, KLK has also pledged not to clear primary forests, High Conservation Value Forests, or High Carbon Stock forests, so there is absolutely no way KLK can develop palm oil on Lot 5. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for them still to be here, yet they are.

Join me in telling KLK it’s time to pack its bags and leave Collingwood Bay for good.

Our people have been fighting companies like KLK for too long, and we are fed up with their attempts to undermine our local economies and culture and rob us of our rich natural resources. Our paramount chiefs have said no to these forms of development, and they have said no to palm oil development in Collingwood Bay.

The forests and cultures of the Collingwood Bay people are at stake if KLK proceeds. We urgently need your voice to send this message to KLK loud and clear: No palm oil development and no KLK in Collingwood Bay!

* Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe. He is a Coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues and was a Plaintiff in Collingwood Bay communities’ customary land court case. Lester is a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and served as a Public Servant with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 17 years. He then became the Executive Director of Conservation Melanesia Inc., an environmental NGO, and also served as a Board member on several organizations such as Melanesian Environment Foundation (MEF) Inc., Eco-Forestry Forum (EFF), Environmental Law Centre (ELC) Inc., Conservation Forum (CF) Inc.

Terror at Paga Hill Continues: Pre-School and Church levelled by Police

October 27, 2014 2 comments

10 October Demolition 2014 2

In July Port Moresby’s Paga Hill community won a long legal struggle against the Paga Hill ‘Development’ Company and its Australian CEO ‘Gummi’ Fridriksson.

The Supreme Court ruled that the community resided on reclaimed land outside the state lease which PHDC acquired, allegedly through ‘corrupt dealings’.

The community was saved. Or so it seemed.

10 October Demolition 2014 1

While the court case was proceeding, the reclaimed land was registered by the Department of Lands and leased for 99 years to a PHDC subsidiary, Audayap No.5 Limited.

The late Judge Mark Sevua advised the community that this was in contempt of court, a criminal offence. And like so many law abiding citizens the people of Paga have attempted to prosecute this potential breach of the law by a foreigner through the courts.

And yet it is these PNG citizens who have been subject to police violence.

10 October Demolition 2014 3

Two weeks ago, the RPNGC demolished homes on the reclaimed land at Paga Hill, destroyed for good the historic Church, and burnt down the local pre-school, all to assist a foreign businessman who has been slammed in 4 Public Accounts Committee reports, 2 Auditor General Reports and 1 Commission of Inquiry.

10 October Demolition 2014 4

Shining examples include:

  • The Auditor General alleges that K1,966,677 was wrongfully seized from the sale of deceased PNG estates, when Fridriksson’s company CCS Anvil was advising the Public Curators Office (CCS Anvil has acted as PHDC’s ‘project director’). The Auditor General also claims K4,872,375 in ‘unlawful’ payments were made to CCS Anvil by the Public Curators Office.
  • According to the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee K79,500 in unlawful payments were made by the East Sepik Provincial government to CCS Anvil
  • According to the Public Accounts Committee K375,799 in unlawful payments were made by the Parliamentary Service to CCS Anvil.
  • According to evidence given to the judicial inquiry into the Department of Finance, CCS Anvil was paid a K1.4 million fee for allegedly advising a plaintiff to increase their fraudulent claim against the state from K900,000 to K4.4 million, which was illicitly settled by certain state officials out of court.

10 October Demolition 2014 6

Why would the police burn, and demolish homes owned by law abiding citizens, on behalf of a foreign individual who has allegedly misappropriated millions from the public purse?

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

These are worrying times!

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 487 days and counting…

October 24, 2014 Leave a comment

487

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

billboard poster - give land back to landowners

SABL: PNG government is failing its people and environment, say scientists

October 24, 2014 Leave a comment

ALERT

A leading scientific group is criticizing the government of Papua New Guinea for failing to make good on its promise to phase out Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs), which the group sees as a major threat to PNG’s environment and people.

“The SABL situation is a mess,” said William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Australia and director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Scientists and Thinkers.

Many national and international groups have worried that the leases, which cover 11% of PNG’s land area and can run for as long as 99 years, will lead to serious environmental degradation and alienate indigenous groups from their traditional lands.

“A two-year Commission of Inquiry concluded that most SABLs should be abolished, and the government promised to do so,” said Corey Bradshaw, a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “But it hasn’t happened and some of the most damaging SABLs are continuing.”

“The SABLs were supposed to promote agricultural development, but some have been misused to get around logging laws and the constitutional rights of PNG citizens to their customary land,” said Bradshaw.

“As a result, huge amounts of rainforest are being logged and cleared and the timber sold overseas,” said Laurance.

“There’s also been widespread evidence of fraud and other irregularities,” said Bradshaw.  “In many cases the concerns of local landowners are being overrun by big corporations.”

“The PNG government needs to phase out the big SABLs that are really just a guise for logging and land theft,” said Laurance.

“It’s not just PNG citizens that are worried about this,” said Laurance.  “The world is watching too, and we hope the PNG government can show real leadership and put a stop to this environmental and social travesty.”

For further information:

Distinguished Professor William Laurance, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Email: bill.laurance@jcu.edu.au; Phone: 07-4038-1518 (+61-7-4038-1518 internationally)

Peter O’Neill: All inquiry no action on SABL land grab and illegal logging

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

via ACT NOW!

cartoon showing Peter O'Neill being fed by Rimbunan Hijau while he sits on a pile of SABL reports

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 480 days and counting…

October 17, 2014 Leave a comment

480

It is now 480 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.

It was on June 24, 2013 that he was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.

For 480 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the SABL leases and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

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